App Review: Strava

*As always, all opinions expressed are my own.  I was not asked to review this app, and I was not compensated in any way for writing this review.*

I’ve been using Strava for a few months now, so I figured it was time for an app review.  Strava is a tracking app for both running and cycling, and so far, I’ve been pretty impressed.

Strava does the same things that a lot of run tracking apps do:  tracks time, distance, pace, keeps a record of your runs, elevation, splits etc.  But of all the run tracking apps I’ve used, Strava has (in my opinion) the nicest interface.  It’s easy to find the information you’re looking for, and to find it quickly.

I used to love Nike Run+, but it was pretty limited in the amount of data you got out of it; particularly annoying was the lack of split times.  Strava displays them for you right below the map of your run, and you can easily swipe sideways to view your elevation, and any achievements you scored during that particular run.

Pros:

  • Finds GPS signal instantly
  • You can get pace and overall time updates every half mile or mile, or not at all depending on what you prefer
  • You can tag runs as “workout,” “long run” or “race” and write a quick note about weather, shoes, how you felt etc
  • It’s an option to upload your workout to social media, but it doesn’t bug you incessantly
  • Keeps track of your records–fastest 5k, fastest 10k, fastest mile, longest run etc
  • I discovered Memorial Day weekend that when you run on a trackor area that the GPS can identify (Victory Field in Watertown, MA, for example), it will give you lap “segments” so you can compare your lap time.  It also keeps track of other people’s laps on the same track so you can compete with others!
  • There is a “premium” option ($5.99/month or $59.99/year) that gives you real-time segments, pace zone analysis, heart rate monitor pairing and more.  I haven’t gone this route yet, but for a more serious athlete, it’s nice to have the option

Strava

Cons:

  • The only problem I’ve had so far is that sometimes, even though the display will say I’ve run 9.0 miles, when I end my run and save it, it will save as only 8.9 miles.  This is particularly frustrating when I’ve just run past my house 3 times in order to get to 9 miles, but my run is logged as only 8.9.  This has happened to me often enough that I’ve actually taken to running an extra tenth of a mile just to make sure I actually get my scheduled mileage in my log.

I will most likely continue to use Strava as long as I’m running outdoors.  I’ve been really happy with it other than the silly tenth of a mile bug.  Once winter hits, though, I’ll probably head back to the treadmill and back to Nike Run+, because it uses the accelerometer to track distance without GPS.

Have you ever used Strava?

Do you ever run by your house just to see a certain distance on your GPS?

Nike + Running Review

I currently use Nike+ Running to track my runs almost exclusively.  When I started running  I started out using Run Keeper, but I really didn’t like the interface.  My sister suggested Nike+ Running, and I haven’t looked back since.  This app has got most of my runs from the last year and a half in there, so I’m pretty attached to it.  I wanted to review it for you, because it’s always tough to know what to use when you’re first starting out.

Indoor/Outdoor Functionality:  The main reason I love this app so much is because you can use it either on the treadmill or on an outdoor run.  I’ve found that a lot of run tracking apps only work with GPS, so if you’re staying in one place (the treadmill), it doesn’t track your distance.  You can select the orientation of your device (left armband, right armband or handheld) to help it track your movement.  At the end of your run, you can change the recorded distance to match the actual distance on the treadmill, and the app will continue to calibrate to your movement.  Pretty neat!

Nike+ Calibration

Music:  Music is totally integrated into this app.  You can select an album, a playlist, or even use a totally separate music app like Pandora or Rock my Run.  You can also select “Power Songs” to play every so often to give you some extra motivation.

Stats:  The app does a great job of tracking your runs.  Each day’s activity is saved individually, so you can scroll through and look at your distinct runs–pace, distance, time, calories burned etc.  The home screen also gives you a great summary of total distance, total runs, and average pace so you can get a great at-a-glance peek at how you’re doing.

Nike+ Home

Facebook Connectivity:  You can link the app up to your Facebook account to find friends to compete with.  As you can see above, the home screen actually shows where you are in relation to your friends, to give you a little kick in the butt to put in more miles.  And if you link up to FB, you can turn on “Cheers.”  The app will post to Facebook, and anybody who likes or comments on the status will give you an encouraging message (cheer) through the app to help keep you motivated.

Shoe Tracker:  This is yet another of my favorite aspects to this app–you can tell it which shoes you are wearing for a particular run.  This will help you to see how many miles you’ve put on your shoes and allow you to make a more informed decision about when it might be time to retire a pair.  My Nike Frees have almost 300 miles on them (just in the app–there have definitely been a few runs where I didn’t use Nike+), so it’s getting to be about that time for me, which stinks, since running shoes are EXPENSIVE.

Badges and Trophies:  Nike+ Running gives you little badges for certain accomplishments–first 5k, first 10k, fastest mile etc, and stores them with the corresponding runs.  It also lets you know when you beat a previous record.  There are also trophies for milestones like hitting 50k or running so many weeks in a row.  It’s a great way to see your improvement over time, and feel proud of your progress.

Cons:  The biggest con for me going into more serious training is that you can’t get split times for your miles.  I’d like to be able to gauge how I’m doing on longer runs, especially as I begin running outside and will need to regulate my own speed rather than relying on the treadmill.

Also, the distance calibration option for treadmill runs doesn’t always work, meaning I can’t put in my actual distance as opposed to what the app has calculated, so it doesn’t always give me accurate data when I’m looking back later.

Conclusion:  All in all this is a great app, especially if, like me, you do a lot of indoor runs.  It’s easy to use, has a lot of great features, and helps to keep you motivated.

What run tracking apps do you use?

**Please note that I was not asked to write this review, and I was not compensated in any way.  All opinions expressed are my own.